A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Springroll2011

2,025 KM Completed

The multi-colored patriotic line is my route.

large_Shanghai_1.png

large_China_1.png

From Yancheng to Ha’lan to Nantong, Jiangsu, to SHANGHAI, China.

Today's Total Distance: Day 1: 104 km, Day 2: 95 km, Day 3: 107 km
Trip Total Distance: 2,025 km or 1,258 miles

This will be the easiest blog entry I will have written since beginning this trip; an overall reflection of my trip and experiences. Quick note: I guess because I’m always requesting the cheapest possible hotel room, and therefore I end up with a room without any windows. It’s a box that gets stuffy and I’m starting to get a little claustrophobic.

First thing’s first: Yes, I had a good, positive experience on this cycling trip and I would do it again.
The beginning of the trip was physically difficult. Riding one day for 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) is not as hard as it sounds, but doing it the next day, and then the following day without giving your body sufficient time to recover is when the aches and pains arise and take their toll. Surprisingly what worried me the most before this trip, but ended up affecting me very little, were my knees. During my training rides I had very sharp pains under my knee caps that would linger for over a week and make it hard to walk. After countless seat adjustments, I finally found a somewhat suitable position that alleviated most of the pain. However, one day my seat, which is usually tilted slightly forwarded, slipped back a few notches which led to a new pain in the back of my knee. This new pain was totally different and very painful and scary, and had me genuinely worried that it would stop my trip. It’s easy to say now, why didn’t you just adjust the tilt back to the original position, but while out there, it’s completely trial and error, and learning.
Anyways, the point is that it’s difficult to find the proper position for every piece of equipment on the bike to fit your body. I know I’m still far from my bike being a perfect fit for me, and I will spend more time finding my comfort position even after this trip is done. I’ll probably take my bike to a few shops and see what they suggest. It’s funny, I never had pains riding until a friend kept telling me that my seat is extremely low and it’s harmful to my knees, apart from looking ridiculous. Finally I raised seat, and that’s when the pain started.

As of now, I would say this trip was fifty percent physical and fifty percent mental, however if this trip were to continue for a few more months, I know that ratio would inevitably change. While at the beginning the physical aspect of this trip was more demanding, as weeks went by it physically became easier and mentally tougher. By the end of this trip the physical and mental hardships had switched places.

large_Elevation_better.png

This is the changing elevation of my trip. Nothing too demanding.

I would do this trip again, with some changes of course:

1.

As far as packing goes, I believe I did well in the clothing department. I did not pack too many clothes. I would however buy a new jacket / windbreaker. My jacket did not breathe, no ventilation. Even on cold days, I would be sweating and completely wet inside the jacket. The jeans were fine, no problem at all.
I wouldn’t bring my laptop next time. Although very convenient, especially for planning the next day’s route, it was by far the heaviest thing in my bags. On top of that, it definitely kept me up too late at night.
I also shouldn’t have bought an extra U-lock. I never used it once and it was the second heaviest thing. I even read another’s blog on how he regretted bringing the extra lock, and I went ahead and did the same thing. It’s true, most of the time you’re not too far from the bike, and when you stay in hotels, the bicycle is pretty safe. One lock is plenty.

2.

I wouldn’t do this route again, nor would I recommend it to anyone. Throughout the trip I think I met about 3 Chinese men who said they had done a bicycle tour and all of them had ridden to the same place, Tibet. Tibet seems to be the only place where Chinese cyclists go, and maybe for good reason; the other routes and destinations are just plain boring in comparison.

3.

And with the previous said, I would definitely try to go with a friend next time. A friend would make those boring days and days with virtually no scenery to look at, considerably much more enjoyable.

In conclusion, you can only plan so much. There were many days when the weather was great or the winds were in my favor and I thought that I’m going to ride 150 km today, and then disaster struck. The road would turn to mud and rocks, or a flat would set you back, or a wrong or missed turn would leave an hour off the planned route; and your day with great weather and aspirations of personal bests have hit the brakes.
I’m very surprised that I never got a ride on this trip, not to say that there weren’t times that I would have gladly accepted. Something else worth noting is that my rear-end never hurt from sitting all day like many people touring experience. I bought a gel seat cover and it worked wonders. Also, sign me up, I’ll gladly endorse the anti-puncture tire liner I bought. Over 2,000 km and only 2 flats, one of which wasn’t even on the road while riding and likely due to wildly pumping the tire one morning.
I did pass by a few cyclists who looked like they were doing long day-rides, but I didn’t run into anyone who was loaded up like I was.
And finally, the question I know I will be asked and that I don’t have an answer for, “How do you feel now that it’s over?”

…Well, I’m glad that it’s over and I’m back home. As of now I haven’t felt like I’ve accomplished anything big. It’s a good story and it has a ‘Wow’ factor. I can only hope that this leads to more challenging things.

==Lists==

Toughest aspect of trip

: Hands down, the wind

Hardest Day

: Day 7. The wind was strong, my knee was at its worst, and I didn’t have any food.

Favorite City

: Bayuquan, Liaoning. Most have never heard of it, probably because it’s a new development area of Yingkou, but was clean, laid-back, not too big and not too small.

Longest ride (km):

118 km

Shortest ride (km)

: 41 km

Longest ride (time)

: 9.5 hours

Shortest ride (time)

: 3 hours

Cost of trip:

Hard to say: I kept a good list of equipment cost. The first week and half of riding I kept a accurate list of expenses, and then got lazy about it. I probably spent around 12,000 to 13,000 RMB, or around 2,000 US dollars. Not that bad considering having nothing to begin with, and spending a month in hotels and food, and I didn’t exactly budget.

Now that I’m back, I’m not completely sure what I’ll do now. I quit my job, so I have a lot of free time. I’m sure I’ll do some part time work to make a little money, in fact I’m working tomorrow and Wednesday. I’ll probably plan non-cycling trip in the next coming months.

Posted by Springroll2011 22:02 Comments (2)

Homestretch

The multi-colored patriotic line is my route.

large_Last_segment.png

From Chentuanzhen, Shandong, to Lianyungang to Binhai to Yancheng, Jiangsu, China.

Today's Total Distance: Day 1: 97 km, Day 2: 78 km, Day 3: 104 km
Trip Total Distance: 1,719 km

I’m on the home-stretch, I expect to back on Sunday. Honestly, I can’t wait and I’m looking forward to being back. I’m looking forward to going out and having a beer; I had a lot of nights drinking water in a hotel room.

It’s been warm the past few days but bearable, and of course always looking like on the brink of raining. I’ve never paid so much attention to weather before this trip, and I never knew how much weather could affect basically everything.

Nothing much to report. I’m in a pretty big city so of course I’m trying to fill up on western food. I got a big pizza from pizza hut.

large_Nuts.jpg

Guess which one I chose…

Posted by Springroll2011 02:46 Comments (3)

A Week to Go

The multi-colored patriotic line is my route.

large_Chentuanzhen.png

From Shouguang to Anqiu to Chentuanzhen, Shandong, China.
I left at 8:20 am and arrived at 3:30 pm.

Today's Total Distance: Day 1: 90 km, Day 2:104 km
Trip Total Distance: 1,440 km

The heat is on. The temperature is up to 80 degrees (30 Celsius) the past couple of days, and with heat on China’s east coast also comes humidity. The humidity hasn’t been too bad thank god. Overall it’s great riding weather and it hasn’t made me sluggish at all. I can go through about 4 liters of water while riding, and drink probably another 1.5 later in the evening at the hotel. There’s this never ending thirst.
And if you don’t know, I’m a sweater. I can go 100 km with one bathroom break, and the rest finds its way out through my pours. The wind dries the salty sweat on my body and face, making it feel like I just came out of the ocean. The dried up salt burns my eyes as a sweat drop rolls into my eye.

large_Meride.jpg

The camera I’m using only has a 10 second self-timer, so after pressing shoot I barely have enough time to rush back and hop on the bike for a pose. I admit, I don't look like much of a cyclist with with clothes I have on, but then I wouldn't feel like me wearing what a cyclist wears. One day when I feel comfortable enough, I'll probably break down and break out the spandex and bright colored cycling jersey.

Two days ago I got my very first flat while riding. My destination was about an hour away and I was considering riding there with the flat. You’ve never seen someone so indecisive with a flat tire. I decided change it. The next decision was whether to change the flat with the bike standing or to take my bags off the bike and flip the bike upside down. I flipped it, and was done in about 20 minutes. Not too bad for my first time on the road. I’m not patching the tube on the road, but rather replacing the tube with another one. Later at the hotel I can take the flat tube and look for the puncture and then patch it. It’s must faster on the road this way. I’m just thankful I didn’t get the flat on a busy road with hundreds of onlookers. After 6 years in china I still can’t put up with the staring.
That very same day, I got lost, or rather just missed my turn. I always have a pretty good idea where I am, so I cannot truly say ‘lost.’ It’s frustrating, but getting back to my main route the next day proved to be a very relaxing country back-road with almost no traffic and the nicest dirt roads to date.

large_Crops.jpg

Today was a rainy day, so it is a natural day off. As of now, I’m approximately 600 kilometers out of Shanghai, which should put me at 1 more week exactly if I keep up my 100 km a day pace, including one rest day.

large_Biketree.jpg

Posted by Springroll2011 04:58 Comments (2)

Keep Going

The multi-colored patriotic line is my route.

large_Shouguang.png

From Binzhou to Shouguang, Shandong, China.
I left at 8:20 am and arrived at 3:30 pm.

Today's Total Distance: 95 km
Trip Total Distance: 1,246 km

Look at that map route, looks as if I’m making a full circle.

Today was alright; albeit windy. The was actually a bike lane today separated from the lane so I felt comfortable enough to block out the car noise and listen to the old itouch. It’s a much better way to pass the time while riding. I desperately need some new music. You know it’s difficult to find new music while living here, but I have find ‘The Black Keys,’ and nothing sounds better right now.

I only have one more day left of flat, pancake-like roads before hitting the mountains. Although harder, mountains have to mean trees, and better scenery, so that’s something worth looking forward to.

Other than that, I’m trying to make up lost time and make sure I hit close to 100 kilometer every day, after all, it’s already been 3 weeks. You move pretty fast across a map when doing 100 km a day.

This one’s short. I’m extremely tired, and my legs have been getting tired too ever since taking the 3 days off. I think in the future I won't write everyday. It takes me almost an hour and a half to do one blog entry. I'll write less often but hopefully I'll have more to say and more pics have been taken.

Posted by Springroll2011 07:20 Comments (0)

The Return of Green

The multi-colored patriotic line is my route.

large_Binzhou2.png

From Huizu Xiang, Hebei, to Binzhou, Shandong, China.
I left at 8:50 am and arrived at 4:30 pm.

Today's Total Distance: 116 km
Trip Total Distance: 1,151 km

I’m back. I took three full days off to recover from a sickness which left me physically unable to ride. I spent the time watching movies, reading bin Laden stories, and also reading other people’s cycling blogs. Reading the blogs really helped me relate to other rider’s trips and remember and realize again that most of my struggles and frustrations on this trip are no different from theirs.

It was hard to get going again. I spent an hour in the morning continuously looking out my window and debating whether to ride. Finally I told myself that I had left to ride on much worst days than this one.

It’s amazing when the sun peeks through how much my spirits lift and I don’t feel like I’m grinding away on the bike. It was very short lived, but actually having vegetation and something green to look at today made up for it; probably the first green plants I’ve seen in the 3 riding days.

large_plants.jpg

large_temple.jpg

These types of things are somewhat common along the way.

large_washdown.jpg

I decided since most hotels don’t have an elevator to bring the bike to my room so I can wash it down in the shower, time to go to a car wash. I should have done it days ago. I haven’t been keeping up on maintenance very much.

Posted by Springroll2011 06:54 Comments (0)

1,000 KM

The multi-colored patriotic line is my route.

large_Tianjin_to..u_Xiang.png

From Tianjin Harbor to Huizu Xiang, Hebei, China.
I left at 8:30 am and arrived at 3:30 pm.

Today's Total Distance: 96 km
Trip Total Distance: 1,035 km

It was good to get going again. I had felt static after the short ride on Thursday, and taking Friday off. That one day off literally makes it feel like I hadn’t moved in four days.
This was one of those tough windy days. I wanted to give up and almost did. I probably went through half a dozen toll booths today, and each time I was waiting for one of the operators to tell me the toll road was off-limits to bicycles and I had to turn around. At which point I would demand that I have gone too far, and someone must drive me back; but it never happened. I almost got turned away from one toll booth, but when the previous 4 have let you pass, why tell me to turn around now.

So at exactly 44 km when the road junctioned with another, and I made a left onto the new road, the winds suddenly shifted in my favor. I drop the gears into a high gear and took off. About 10 km later, a guy in a truck offered me a ride and I strangely refused. Half an hour earlier and I would have gladly accepted.

large_wind_turbine.png

Obviously these mean windy rides.

large_crap.png

I really don’t know how to describe the scenery. What’s the opposite of awe-inspiring? It seems like the whole of Hebei Province is under construction, and today was simply barren land. If it had been 10 degrees hotter and you would have told me that we’re in the middle of a desert, I would have believed you. Absolutely no vegetation, I guess that’s why Beijing has been getting sandstorms over the past decade.

Obviously this trip is more about the personal challenge than the sightseeing.

Posted by Springroll2011 07:21 Comments (2)

shortest yet

The multi-colored patriotic line is my route.

large_Ninghe_to_Tianjin.png

From Ninghe to Tianjin Harbor, Hebei, China.
I left at 10:30 am and arrived at 2:30 pm.

Today's Total Distance: 41 km
Trip Total Distance: 939 km

I don’t know what’s up with my pictures not being able to load; must be something with the servers. I’ll keep trying, because I know a blog is more interesting with pictures. Well, the next time I’m able to post my map, hopefully it will be a big jump from the last one posted.

Today of course was harder than I anticipated. The winds beat me up over a short 40 km. So, now I’m in Tianjin, which is roughly the same latitude from where I started, and wondering if I should take tomorrow off, or skip it. There’s a chance of rain and I’m feeling a bit worn out. One thing’s for sure, my next ride will put me over 1,000 kilometers!

This was the shortest ride yet, and thus the shortest blog post yet.

Posted by Springroll2011 05:07 Comments (1)

2 Weeks in the Dust

The multi-colored patriotic line is my route.

large_Luanxian_to_Ninghe.png

From Luanxian to Ninghe, Hebei, China.
I left at 8:30 am and arrived at 5 pm.

Today's Total Distance: 115 km
Trip Total Distance: 898 km

I’ve have officially finished my second week. My original goal was to at Tianjin Harbor in two weeks, and I’m pretty close to that. What I’ve learned in these two weeks is that it’s difficult to stick to the planned daily route because weather, or like today, heavy road construction, can really mess up those plans. I feel that if you can come anywhere near your planned route then you should be satisfied.

The first week I was hurting bad and still trying to make little adjustments on my bike, however this week I have felt much better with less aches and pains. I recover faster, but I do limp while walking because of a stiff knee after a long day riding. It’s interesting to compare the first and second week; I do feel that my endurance is much better. Even with less riding days in my second week, I still surpassed my first week’s kilometer total.

Week 1
6 riding days

Day 1: 83 km
Day 2: 56 km
Day 3: 87 km
Day 4: 74 km
Day 5: 49 km
Day 6: 83 km

Week 1 total kilometers: 432 km
Week 1 daily riding average: 72 km

Week 2
5 riding days

Day 7: 92 km
Day 8: 47 km
Day 9: 118 km
Day 10: 94 km
Day 11: 115 km

Week 2 total kilometers: 466 km
Week 2 daily riding average: 93.2 km

Sorry. No pics today. Today was the dirtiest riding day yet. It was a pure dustbowl, and 40 kilometers of unfinished, rocky, muddy highway. Tomorrow will be a real short two or three hour ride to Tianjin Harbor and then I’ll call it a day. I’m going to skip my day off the next day, so tomorrow’s short ride will act as my day off.

Posted by Springroll2011 06:44 Comments (2)

Quick Day

The multi-colored patriotic line is my route.

large_Qinhuangda..uanxian.png

From Qinhuangdao to Luanxian, Hebei, China.
I left at 8:30 am and arrived at 3 pm.

Today's Total Distance: 94 km
Trip Total Distance: 783 km

I spent a day in Qinhuangdao and visited The Dragon Head section of The Great Wall. I have to say that I enjoyed the intensely more touristy section at Badaling, Bejing. Anyways, the rest of the day, I washed most of my clothes, and gave my bike a bath. I also changed the tube in the front wheel because I was becoming too worried that it was going to go flat at any minute from the quick job the Chinese guy did a few days ago. After changing the tube and pumping up both tires, I’ve concluded there’s something wrong with my bike pump, and I need to buy a new one. I can only get my tires up to 25 psi.

large_The_wall.jpg

large_ok_cook.jpg

Me trying to look cool.

large_Great_pose.jpg

Great picture squatting

Today’s weather was less than desirable, like always, and of course the day wouldn’t be complete without some rain, but I met my distance goal so I’m happy about that. In fact, today’s ride was incredibly easy and I even thought about continuing to the next city, but when I saw that 50 km sign, I decided enough is enough. I feel good, and my endurance is much better than a week ago. I was flying down the road the whole day.

I’m planning a big day tomorrow and tomorrow is looking good. I’m going to rip it up and should finish the day and week 2 with a new personal best!

large_dirt.jpg

Much of the highway was under construction. This part lasted almost 10 km.

Posted by Springroll2011 06:13 Comments (2)

A Century and Beyond, The Great Wall

The multi-colored patriotic line is my route.

large_Suizhong_t..uangdao.png

From Suizhong, Liaoning, to Qinhuangdao, Hebei, China
I left at 8:20 am and arrived at The Wall by 12:30 pm and my hotel by 6 pm.

Today's Total Distance: 118 km
Trip Total Distance: 689 km

Happy Easter!

Let me say that it’s good to be in my hotel and resting. I never intended to ride this much, nonetheless 118 kilometers. I didn’t think I’d get my century today. I thought I’d only ride 90 km tops.

large_Yours_truely.jpg

Your's Truly

large_French.jpg

Those Chinese and their terrible English, and sophisticated French.

large_border.jpg

Leaving Liaoning Province and entering Hebei Province. Notice on the sign how far it says to Qinhuangdao… it’s actually much further.

First of all, never trust highway signs here. You pass one and it will say 29 km to your destination, then an hour later you pass another one that says 26 km to destination. Trust me, no one is that slow. I found a good website that lets me calculate the kilometers, and it’s been spot on, so I should always stick with what I know.
Second, your mind is your worst enemy out there when you think you’ve gone so far, or the city is just over the hill, and you’re not even close. Again, I should only trust with what a calculated ahead of time. I only intended to do 70 km today, but in my mind the main bigger city next to the smaller one I had planned to stop in was right next to each other. This is where I was wrong, and an exhausting 30 km more, including a wicked detour, left me sour. Anyways, it’s 30 km I won’t have to do the next day.

large_Detour.png

The line from the right is where I came from, and you can see how close I was before I had to turn around, make the detour, and basically make a full circle around the city which probably added an extra 10 km. I had no idea how close I was really was, I need to start mapping the cities before I go.

Speaking of the next day, I definitely taking tomorrow off. It’s been my typically pattern of 3 days of riding, then one day off. Plus, there are a couple different Great Wall sites to visit around this city.

large_fruit_trees.jpg

large_sheep.jpg

large_first.jpg

This is what I had been looking forward to the whole day. I spent a good two hours in this area.

large_second.jpg

large_me.jpg

large_the_sign.jpg

large_Sitting_man.jpg

This is a very normal sitting position for Chinese people. Similar to squatting on the toilet. Anyways, in the back ground is The Great Wall entering the ocean. I will most likely go there tomorrow.

large_Sea_wall.jpg

Posted by Springroll2011 04:34 Comments (3)

(Entries 1 - 10 of 20) Page [1] 2 »